THE people of Clare will once again walk together in solidarity from ‘Darkness Into Light’ this year as the popular event in aid of Pieta returns to in-person walks on May 7.
This year’s walk will launch on Thursday evening, April 7, in the Temple Gate Hotel with Davy Fitzgerald and Aoibhin Garrihy there to show their support. Representatives from all Darkness into Light walks within County Clare will also be at the launch.
Plans are underway for events in Ennis, Shannon, Sixmilebridge and Kilmihil in the early hours of May 7, while a swim will also be held in Spanish Point with June Curtin.
Darkness Into Light had its first walk in Ennis in 2011 with 550 people participating, growing to over 3,500 in 2019.
The 2020 walk was cancelled due to Covid-19, and last year a virtual event was held. This year’s Darkness Into Light will be a hybrid event, with the return of in-person walks alongside the option to do a walk virtually.
Mary Howard, a member of the Ennis Darkness Into Light committee, told The Champion they are thrilled to be able to be back walking together again.
“It’s such a hugely important date in the calendar every year and it’s great that we can get back out there and walk together shoulder to shoulder, connecting with one another.
“People get out of bed at two or three o’clock in the morning to come down and take part, and they are doing so for a variety of reasons.
“Maybe they know somebody who has mental health issues or somebody has died by suicide, maybe they have been dealing with their own mental health issues.
“They come out and are tired and pensive looking, then they they go off on the walk and they come back and they are full of chat. They are smiling, they’ve connected with people. From the first time I participated in 2011 I knew this was something different, this was special.”
This year’s Ennis walk will follow a new 5km route, setting off from the new primary school at Ennis CBS.
“We have amazing volunteers who give up their night, and a few beforehand, to help organising.
“The move to CBS is great because it means we don’t have to worry about marquees, portaloos, generators that kind of thing.”
She also acknowledged Davy Fitzgerald and Aoibhin Garrihy for their help in launching this year’s event.
“They have been great supporters in the past and it is brilliant to have them with us on the night of the launch.”
In 2009, in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, 400 people set off on the inaugural Darkness Into Light 5km walk to raise funds for Pieta.
From small beginnings, the movement has continued to grow, and now there are about 200,000 participants in Darkness Into Light each year.
Each year the walk provides an opportunity for people to connect with their local community and to bring hope to people who have been impacted by suicide.
Since Darkness Into Light began, supporters have helped raise almost €29 million, which has enabled Pieta to keep its doors and a 24/7 helpline open for people in crisis, free of charge.
In 2012, the first international event took place in London, and since then international partner charities, from Seoul to Spain and New Zealand to the Netherlands, have benefited from an investment of over €3.5 million in local mental health support services.
Pieta have been supported by Electric Ireland since 2013.
“In 2022, we are delighted to be welcoming back our in-person walks in Ireland and across the world,” said a spokesperson for the national event.
“In 2021, we were also overwhelmed by the support of thousands of people who took part in Darkness Into Light in their own way.
“So, this year, we are inviting you to take part in Darkness Into Light in whatever way you want.
“The important thing is that you share a sunrise moment and raise vital funds for people affected by suicide and self-harm.
“Together, we can create a global sunrise moment and join together to be the light against the dark,” said a spokesperson for the national event.
For more see the Darkness into Light website.